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AT&T, Verizon refuse request to delay 5G rollout

Jan. 02, 2022
2 min read
Internal control part of the aircraft cockpit including altimeter. (Photo by
AT&T, Verizon refuse request to delay 5G rollout
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AT&T and Verizon have refused a request by federal officials to delay the launch of their new 5G wireless systems. That request came in the form of a Dec. 31 letter to the telecom giants from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

The letter asked the two companies to pause the introduction of their 5G service, scheduled to launch on Jan. 5. At issue is the much-discussed potential for the frequency, known as C-band, to potentially interfere with aircraft operations.

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Although some studies have shown that 5G does, in fact, interfere with vital aircraft altimeter readings, the telecom industry remains unconvinced.

The altimeter readings become key for pilot approaches in low visibility situations like when fog settles in over San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Radio altimeters are an important tool for pilots during low-visibility landings. (Photo by Martin Von Castell/EyeEm/Getty Images)

In fact, the day before the letter from Buttigieg and Dickson was sent, an airline trade group filed an emergency request to the Federal Communications Commission regarding the 5G rollout.

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Related: Airline industry study warns of massive impacts if FAA’s 5G directive takes effect

Today's response from AT&T and Verizon does leave some room for compromise. The two company CEOs offered their own limited counterproposal. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, they agreed to reduce the power of their service for six months to the levels currently authorized in France (one of several countries where 5G is already in use).

“If U.S. airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States,” said the letter signed by AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.

Related: What happens when you don’t put your phone on airplane mode?

The compromise, said the executives, would allow U.S. authorities to conduct further studies regarding the possible adverse effects the new technology is having on air traffic.

Featured image by Getty Images
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